Jerry Lewis: Female comics 'set me back a bit'

Jerry Lewis: Asked who his favorite female comics were Thursday at a Cannes Film Festival press conference, Jerry Lewislisted Cary Grant and Burt Reynolds. He then added: 'I don't have any.'

Francois Mori/AP
Comedian Jerry Lewis poses for photographers during a photo call for the film Max Rose at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, May 23.

Ladies? Don't make him laugh.

Asked who his favorite female comics were Thursday at a Cannes Film Festival press conference, Jerry Lewislisted Cary Grant and Burt Reynolds. He then added: "I don't have any."

In 1998, Lewis famously said that watching women do comedy "sets me back a bit" and that he has trouble with the notion of would-be mothers as comedians.

Asked Thursday if he had changed his mind at all because of performers like Melissa McCarthy and Sarah Silverman, the 87-year-old Lewis said of women performing broad comedy: "I can't see women doing that. It bothers me."

"I cannot sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator," he said. "I just can't do that."

Lewis was in Cannes for the premiere of "Max Rose," a drama directed by Daniel Noah in which Lewis stars as an aging jazz musician.

In her 2011 memoir, "Bossypants," Tina Fey alluded to Lewis' attitudes about female comedians: "Whenever someone says to me, 'Jerry Lewis says women aren't funny,' or 'Christopher Hitchens says women aren't funny,' ... Do you have anything to say to that?'

"Yes," writes Fey. "We don't f------ care if you like it."

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